Craney, Edmund B., 1905-1991

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1905-02-19
Death 1991-04-06

Biographical notes:

"Early in May, 1945, members of the Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce who were studying international communications were urged by the War and Navy Depts. to make a trip to Europe to see some of the communications that had been built by American Armed Forces and inspect any other communication installations that might be possible to inspect in foreign countries."

From the description of U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce European trip of communications inspection by Subcommittee on International Communications / notes by E.B. Craney. 1945 May-Jun. (Montana State University Bozeman Library). WorldCat record id: 42929915

Edmund B. Craney was a longtime resident of Butte and a pioneer in radio and television broadcasting in Washington and Montana. As an active broadcaster he was honored with a Peabody award in 1947 for his coverage of a translator network enabling television signals to reach remote areas. Craney established the Greater Montana Foundation, dedicated to the betterment of broadcasting in the state and in 1979 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service from Montana State University.

From the description of U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce European trip of communications inspection by Subcommittee on International Communications scrapbook, May-June 1945. (Montana State University Bozeman Library). WorldCat record id: 70924615

Edmund B. Craney (1905-1991) was a longtime resident of Butte and a pioneer in radio and television broadcasting in Washington and Montana. As an active broadcaster, he was honored with a Peabody award in 1947 for his coverage of a translator network enabling television signals to reach remote areas. Craney established the Greater Montana Foundation, dedicated to the betterment of broadcasting in the state and in 1979; he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service from Montana State University.

From the guide to the U.S. Senate Committee on Interstate Commerce European Trip of Communications Inspection by Subcommittee on International Communications Scrapbook, 1945 May-1945 June, (Montana State University-Bozeman Library, Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections)

Edmund B. Craney's collection documents the growth of the radio and television industry in Montana and the nation over a period of five decades. His Montana Z Bar Network (1937-1961) represents a pioneering concept of group ownership. Craney was the first broadcaster in the Pacific Northwest to organize regional networks. In the 1950s Craney's identification with the problems of telecasting in the west propelled him on to the national scene. As a leader of two translator associations, he became a forceful spokesman in defense of translators and Free TV and was considered one of the most influential broadcasters in the nation.

Edmund Blodgette Craney was born in Spokane, Washington, February 19, 1905. His parents, Lucy Alice Blodgette and James Craney, natives of Maine, married in Palouse, Washington, where James was a lumbering contractor. In 1914 James accepted the position of Superintendent of the Great Northern Railroad's Somers Lumber Company for operations at Swan Lake, Montana, where the Craney family (sons Ed and Oliver; daughters Emily, Martha, and Cora) lived in a remote yet convivial camp. They returned to Spokane in 1919. After graduation from high school, Ed worked in a radio parts store owned by Thomas W. Symons, Jr.

In 1922 Symons and Craney, as associates, started Spokane's first radio station, KFDC, which was the 18th in the nation. During the 1920s Craney travelled throughout the northwest to increase wholesale radio sales. After several visits to Montana, he decided to branch out and in 1928 the Federal Radio Commission granted the Symons Investment Company permission to broadcast from Butte. Thus on January 31, 1929, Butte's first radio station, KGIR, went on the air. Kenneth 0. MacPherson, announcer, and Leo McMullan, advertising salesman, assisted Craney in managing the station. During the mid-1930s, in order to improve KGIR's frequency, Craney brought Robert D. Martin, a Spokane engineer, to Montana to make field intensity measurements. This was the first such survey in the state and resulted in the station's move in 1937 to a permanent location at Nissler, seven miles west of Butte.

In 1931 Craney, assisted by Senator Burton K. Wheeler (a member of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Commission), obtained network affiliation for KGIR with the National Broadcasting Company. A year later, however, as the effects of the depression hit the broadcasting industry, NBC decided to withdraw from Montana. Wheeler, acting this time as Craney's attorney, succeeded in maintaining the affiliation.

Craney joined the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in 1928. During the early 1930s, while he was serving on the NAB Copyright Committee, he urged the association to take a more active roll in the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) copyright controversy. Craney, among others, opposed ASCAP's fee increase for copyrighted music and proposed that royalty payments be made on a per-use basis. Both on national and local levels Craney tackled the controversy. In Montana, as a leader of the Montana Association of Broadcasters, Craney sought professional advice and hired attorney Kenneth C. Davis (Washington State Association of Broadcasters) to draft Montana copyright laws. In 1939 he helped organize the Independent Radio Networks Affiliates.

During the 1940s Craney actively opposed super-power for stations on an international level. With the aid of Burton K. Wheeler, Craney and other broadcasters lobbied to also limit the power of clear-channel stations. They contended that it was entirely feasible to provide better radio coverage to rural areas by the application of modern engineering rather than by merely using more power.

Craney decided to expand his radio operations in the late 1930s by creating a regional network. In 1937 the Federal Communications Commission granted the Peoples' Forum of the Air in Helena permission to broadcast as KPFA. Kenneth 0. MacPherson of KGIR became manager. Two years later a third station, KRBM in Bozeman, joined the network and was run by Ernest Neath. Known as the Z Bar Network (after a famous cattle brand), the three stations were all affiliated with NBC and linked by telephone circuits which fed national programing from the "mother" station in Butte. In 1947 station KXLL in Missoula, with manager Patrick Goodover, and station KXLK in Great Falls, headed by MacPherson, joined Craney's Z Bar Network.

Craney's approach to the business of broadcast advertising and promotion followed a group pattern. In addition to the Montana Broadcasters (sales), he organized the Pacific Northwest Coverage Group in the 1930s. With headquarters in Butte, this company handled advertising for the Z Bar Network and the Washington-Oregon Network (KFPY Spokane, KRSC Seattle, and KXL Portland). In 1945 Craney formed the Pacific Northwest Broadcasters. As managing director, Craney, assisted by James Manning, handled regional advertising campaigns. As a part of his plan he received clearance from the FCC to change all affiliated stations' call letters to the "XL" designate (e.g. KGIR became KXLF).

Television became part of Craney's network system after the FCC lifted their television "freeze" in 1952. KXLY-TV in Spokane started telecasting in Fedruary 1953. Craney subsequently created Television Montana, an operating corporation for his proposed Montana stations. In the fall of 1953 Butte's KXLF-TV came on the air and four years later KXLJ-TV in Helena joined the system. Barclay Craighead, stockholder and manager of radio station KXLJ, assumed the presidency of the newly incorporated Capital City Television in Helena.

Committed to broadcasting in Montana, Craney became interested in television auxiliary systems that brought signals to isolated communities barred by mountains. In 1956 he installed a co-channel booster near Butte. This low- powered radiating device re-transmitted signals via antennas and amplifiers. Boosters, or repeaters, and translators (that brought clearer reception by direct frequency conversion) were effective and popular in the West. As early as 1954, however, the FCC (citing possible interference and violation of Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934) declared boosters and translators illegal. Two years later the Commission did authorize 10-watt UHF translators, in order to develop the UHF band of frequencies, but they refused to legalize VHF translators (Docket 11611).

Cable television was another type of auxiliary system that proliforated in the 1950s. CATV (Community Antenna Television) grew unchecked by the FCC, since the Commissioners held that CATV was not engaged in common carrier operation and therefore was outside its jurisdiction.

In the late 1950s Craney lobbied for the FCC's authorization of VHF translators and for the regulation of CATV. First he initiated a meeting with Congressional leaders and convinced them to include the translator problem on the agenda of proposed Senate hearings. Then, in 1959 he organized the Tri-State Television Repeater Association, a non-profit, unincorporated group that represented booster clubs in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Finally in 1960 Congress, influenced by "grass-roots" testimonies, passed the enabling legislation (S.1886) to give the FCC authority to license I watt translators (Docket 12116).

During the late 1950s Craney decided to sell his Pacific Northwest holdings, including KXL and KXLY. Then in 1961 he sold his Z Bar Network to Joseph Sample. Retired from broadcasting and marketing, Craney took a more active roll in translator lobbying. Assisted by James B. Beamer, of Livingston, he assumed the presidency of the newly named Tri-State Television Translator Association and in 1967 Craney led the move to reorganize Tri-State into becoming the National Television Translator Association. Judge Nat Allen, of Roundup, served as president while Craney edited the Bulletin which disseminated news and technological information throughout the country.

Though Craney stepped aside as editor in 1970, he continued to be the forceful influence that had led to more power and common carrier microwave for all translators, the inclusion of FM translators in the Association and the licensing of satellite translators. By the mid-1970s the effectiveness of the National Translator Association's lobbying was most evident.

From the guide to the Edmund B. Craney papers, 1916-1979, (Montana Historical Society Archives)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w61g17f2
Ark ID:
w61g17f2
SNAC ID:
2492543

Subjects:

  • Radio broadcasting
  • Communication policy
  • Civic Activism
  • World War, 1939-1945--Communications--History--Sources
  • Telecommunication policy
  • Lobbying
  • Americans--Europe--Diaries
  • Political Campaigns
  • American diaries
  • Television broadcasting
  • Montana
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Communication policy--United States
  • Communication, International

Occupations:

  • Political candidates--Montana
  • Collector

Places:

  • Oregon (as recorded)
  • Idaho (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • Butte (Mont.) (as recorded)
  • Colorado (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Washington (State) (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • Montana (as recorded)
  • Wyoming (as recorded)
  • Europe-Description and travel (as recorded)
  • Great Falls (Mont.) (as recorded)
  • Bozeman (Mont.) (as recorded)
  • Helena (Mont.) (as recorded)
  • Spokane (Wash.) (as recorded)